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Florida Governor Ends 5-Year Waiting Period For Former Felons To Vote

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Governor DeSanatis (courtesy of John Raoux/AP)

Felons in Florida no longer have to wait five or more years to vote once their time is served and no court balance is due.

What We Know:

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in favor of granting felons their civil rights back under certain circumstances. On Wednesday, Desantis and members of the Florida cabinet made some changes to the state’s clemency process that will now eliminate the 5-7 years waiting process felons have to face to gain their rights to vote.
  • The plan will restore all civil rights only to felons who have paid all court fines, restitution and completed their sentence. Felons who have completed their court time but are unable to pay their fees will have to go up against the clemency board, which may result in their court fines being waived, and them having their rights granted back to them.
  • The changes being made will be replacing the waiting period that was created in 2011 by different members on the clemency board. In 2019, Densantis proposed a law that would grant felons their right to vote after waiting 5+ years. That law followed after Florida voters heavily voted for Amendment 4, which granted felons the right to vote in 2018.
  • DeSantis believes that felons who had their right to vote restored under Amendment 4 should have their civil rights restored as well. The restoration of civil rights includes the right to vote, the ability to gain licenses for specific jobs and to serve on a jury. The new clemency plan will not apply to those who have been convicted of murder or sex offenses.

The plan is believed to reduce the backlog in the court system.

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Headlines

Senate Announces Bipartisan $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal

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(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of 10 Senators have been engaged in negotiations with President Biden to create an infrastructure bill. After negotiations ceased this Tuesday, the group announced they have a tentative plan to propose in the coming weeks.

What We Know:

  • The plan includes $579 billion in new spending, which would add up to $1.2 trillion over eight years. Senators said in a statement that the proposal would be paid for and would not include tax increases. There have been talks amongst the group of indexing the gas tax to inflation to cover the cost, but Biden’s unwillingness to raise taxes for those who make less than $400,000 a year would prove difficult.
  • Republicans are skeptical of this deal and Democrats are impatient. Many are hopeful that a bipartisan agreement will pass. In a joint statement, the group said, “We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues, and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support both parties and meet America’s infrastructure needs.”
  • Some Democrats are vehemently opposed to the deal as it makes no mention of clean energy or climate change. They are encouraging leadership to push through a partisan bill, which still would require ten votes on the Republican side to pass.
  • Regardless of opinion, many agree that a bill needs to pass swiftly. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is among these representatives, “I worry about time being wasted. Even if our Republican colleagues [work in] good faith, we simply do not have the time to delay.”

The uncertainty in this decision follows a few weeks of tumult in the Senate between Democrats and Republicans. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement, “Senior White House staff and the Jobs Cabinet will work with the Senate group in the days ahead to get answers to those questions, as we also consult with other members in both the House and the Senate on the path forward.”

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Crime

Man Arrested After Shooting At Gilroy Cops During Pursuit

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A 36-year-old man was arrested Wednesday night after he led Gilroy police officers on a high-speed pursuit.

What We Know:

  • The chase occurred around 9 p.m after police attempted to stop a man named Joshua Munoz. According to authorities, Munoz had warrants out for his arrest and was wanted for outstanding felony and misdemeanor charges.
  • Munoz was charged with possession of a firearm, resisting arrest, child endangerment, brandishing a weapon, burglary, and violating probation. Munoz was pursued by officers onto Highway 101 where he allegedly opened fire. Reportedly, he held a pistol out of the driver’s side window and fired a round at officers. Nobody was injured during the incident.
  • The pursuit reached Monterey County and then the California Highway Patrol took over the chase. Munoz eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. Afterward, Munoz attempted to flee, but officers managed to capture him.
  • Police recovered a handgun and rifle on the scene. Munoz was later booked into Santa Clara County jail. In addition to previous warrants, Munoz has also been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, felony evasion, felon in possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest.

Police are still investigating and are asking anyone with additional information to contact detectives at 408-046-0335 or the anonymous tip line at 408-846-0330.

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Senate Confirms Zahid Quraishi as First Muslim Federal Judge in the U.S.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Zahid Quraishi as a U.S. District Judge of New Jersey, making him the first Muslim American to hold the position in U.S. history.

What We Know:

  • Quraishi, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was approved by the Senate with an 81-16 vote, receiving all present Democratic votes and 34 Republican ones. He is currently a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of New Jersey, has worked as a federal prosecutor, and served two tours in Iraq.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), stated, “[Quraishi] is a man of integrity, a consummate public servant, and a trailblazer for Asian Americans and Muslim Americans across this country who dream of one day presiding over a court of their own.”

  • President Joe Biden nominated Quraishi in his first group of judicial nominations back in March. Biden focused on diversity with his group of nominees, including three African American women for the openings in the Circuit Court and the first women of color to serve as a federal judge in the District of Maryland.
  • Democrats and progressives expressed their excitement and gave their congratulations to Quraishi via social media. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated that Quraishi was an “excellent addition to the court,” and his confirmation is a “reflection of America’s ideal of religious freedom.” Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that they need to expand on demographic and professional diversity, and confirming Quraishi was an example of that.

  • According to The New York Times, The Council on American-Islamic Relations criticized Quraishi’s time while in Iraq and his involvement with former President George W. Bush’s second term. They called Quraishi a “detention legal adviser” during a time when prisoner abuse in Iraq was out of hand.
  • The civil rights group also called out the judge’s involvement with ICE throughout Bush’s last two years of office. They wrote the Senate a letter begging them to take a look into Quraishi’s actions during this time and consider them before they voted. Quraishi received the Bronze Star for his time in service.

Along with confirming Quraishi, the Senate also advanced the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Jackson is at the top of the list for the Supreme Court if a vacancy appears.

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